Retailers join together to stop exploitation in textile industry

UK retailers John Lewis (pictured), M&S, New Look, NEXT, River Island and Shop Direct have signed up to a joint agreement aimed at combating labour exploitation in UK textiles manufacturing.

The ‘Apparel and General Merchandise Public and Private Protocol’ commits signatories to work together to eradicate slavery and exploitation in textile supply chains. They have also pledged to raise awareness to prevent worker exploitation, protect vulnerable and exploited workers and disrupt exploitative practices and help bring criminals to justice.

Enforcement bodies including the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Employment Agency Standards inspectorate, Health and Safety Executive (HSE), HMRC, Immigration Enforcement and the Insolvency Service have also signed the document, which is supported by industry bodies British Retail Consortium, UK Fashion and Textile Association, and auditing system Fast Forward.

The firms’ commitments follow the latest meeting of the Modern Slavery Taskforce, created by Prime Minister Theresa May, which discussed how to better identify and tackle forced labour in business supply chains.

In a statement, released this morning, the GLAA revealed the textiles sector has been identified as a high-risk industry for labour exploitation and believes the partnership will enhance efforts to root it out of supply chains and reassure workers and customers of the efforts being made by the UK industry.

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